LTE should make a great difference to our lives when it begins to roll-out next year, but for far too long many of us have suffered from poor 2G and 3G reception in the most critical of places: our homes. This could be about to end...
Today HSL has announced the first network neutral Femtocell to be made available directly to home users. The 'HSL 2.75G Femtocell' will cost £160 (the same the Vodafone Access Gateway) and connects directly to a user's broadband router to communicate to their mobile operator's own network across the Internet. This creates a cell of good quality coverage throughout the home (or office).
The result is strong voice, SMS, MMS and EDGE/3G data signals which should make life far more pleasurable. It may also hit BT/dedicated ISPs since the Femtocell should dramatically improve 3G dongle performance, meaning light users can scale back on the size (and therefore cost) of their broadband packages.
Naturally enough there is a catch in all this and it is one that is out of our hands. For a Femtocell to work correctly it needs to be approved by each network. HSL "has commenced pursuing agreements with operators in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Oceania", but we don't know how long it will take for individual networks to approve the device. Furthermore, they may want to play mean and only offer their own network locked solutions akin to the Vodafone Access Gateway.
That said, the demand for a so-called 'unlocked' femtocell would potentially be enormous for home and SOHO users alike. Consequently, we're hoping tremendous peer pressure like that which saw Apple approve the Spotify iPhone app will get the HSL 2.75G Femtocell approved quickly.
HSL has launched the website FemtoNow.com to keep users up to speed with network negotiations. Registration will also alert you know if/when the Femtocell is available for your own particular network.